5.08.2016

In the classroom: The Solar System, part 1.

Each May, the kindergartners in my class choose parts of the solar system (little slips of paper out of a hat) to reveal their Planet Play part for the performance. They research their part (Earth, Halley's Comet, the Sun, etc.), write lines, sing songs and perform for their parents before school finishes in June. It's a "moving-up" type of ceremony that children enjoy. In honor of the Planet Play, we switch out themed-curriculum areas (Practical Life, Science, the numeration shelf in Math) to coincide with what we're learning. Here are some shelves that revolve around planets.

I'm not sure it really matters but just so you have some context, I currently have two 3 year olds, 5 four year olds, 9 five year olds, and 6 six year olds. No one puts anything in their mouths so I'm able to have small items.

Practical Life:
I'm not sure where this puzzle came from but it's a favorite. After taking out the pieces and replacing them, many children choose to do an extension where they trace each piece and then pin-punch it to make their very own astronaut.
Here are planets (the names are on the back) and children can attach them to the black magnetic board -- move them around, rotate them, etc. It's a simple work and children are drawn to it.
 
Lots of teachers take away dry pouring by this time in the year (May) but there's still a need. So, I have out dry 1:1 pouring of gold and silver beads.
Here's 1:1 wet pouring followed by 1:3 wet pouring.
I don't really love play-doh because it's so easy to mold but this clay is a little tougher and really works the muscles in the fingers/hand/wrist. 
Next up: placing beads on a little soap dish. 
Spooning beads, scooping pom-poms & tweezing pom-poms:

Clipping stars on a clothesline with clothes pins.
Threading a pipe cleaner thru a ball with holes. This is great to talk about the difference between "rotate" & "revolve" in regards to the Earth (the white ball) and the Sun (the yellow ball).
Threading multiple beads either in a pattern or not.
I categorized this as "twisting" but it's not really. The direct aim is to keep the ball (Earth) on the perimeter (Earth's orbit) of the pie plate as you twist it around and around the yellow felt (the Sun). The indirect aim is to talk about how Earth is in an orbit around the Sun and that the Sun doesn't revolve around the Earth.
This is a great work too and a favorite. Made from poster board and poster board lights, I've made holes following the same patterns as the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper. Children match the green light to the green star as their starting point, follow the dots as they place one light in each hole until the end when they stick the red light into the hole with the red star. They turn on the battery pack, flip the board over and they have their very own Big Dipper and Little Dipper constellations.
Legos are totally not Montessori but they develop coordination, concentration, independence, order -- strengthen fine motor skills, encourage following direct instructions from a book, require counting; you need to be able to count your pieces, require hand/eye coordination, enable the mindset of "try and try again" and I think all those things are in line with Montessori. Plus the children love them. So here's building a space shuttle:
I will say, after one child builds it (it's 144 pieces), they take it apart and place the pieces back in the basket for the next person. 

Not shown here, are the works in Practical Life that are always out: table washing, plant watering, rock scrubbing, etc. 

Math:
Right now, all I have out that is Solar System related are 1-10 counting of Moon Rocks. Though, by the end of the themed-unit there will, no doubt, be other related works.

Science:
This Space TOOB is such a hit! Eventually, I plan to add labels so that children can label each piece.
A tin box filled with pictures of and related to space.
3D planets to label.
A puzzle/matching activity from Amazon.
3-parts matching: planet names and then descriptions of planets for advanced readers.
Various books and space vocabulary.
Stay tuned for part 2 including more math and language activities!

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